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Sunday, 26 May 2019

Msemen - Moroccan Square Pancake Recipe


Msemen is a square shape flat Moroccan pancake. It is crisp and flaky from outside and chewy inside. Msemen is traditionally served for breakfast with honey and butter but can also be had in the evening with Moroccan mint tea or coffee. This is a healthier version of Msemen with whole wheat flour and semolina and is egg-free and without any raising agent like baking soda.


Now before i begin briefing about this recipe, let me answer to the question, which many of my friends and acquaintances keep me asking. They wonder about how i come up with recipes from places i have never been to or recreate a dish which i have not personally tasted. Actually, this is the charm of being a food blogger. You get to learn about new cuisines and experiment with food. But yes, I must admit that there is a lot of research going in behind every new dish. I also have to share the credit of coming up with a new innovative theme every time to the various food groups i am a part of.

                           

For instance, let's take the example of this particular dish. I have never been to Morocco, nor i have tasted these pancakes earlier, nor had i heard of them before. It was when the #197th theme for this week for Foodie Monday Blog Hop had been decided as Get In Shape. This unique theme was suggested by Kalyani who blogs at SizzlingTasteBuds. As per the theme, we had to make a dish that was best represented in any of the geometric shapes like square, rectangle, circle, etc. Kalyani also stated that either we could stick to traditional shapes of the dishes or think out of the box and give new dimensional shape to a dish. Now the first thought which popped my mind was, that i would make some pancake for the theme as my son loves them and because pancakes are usually round. On the second thought, just for fun, i thought i will make it in different shape and then i googled square shape pancake. And guess what, there actually existed a square-shaped pancake from Morocco and so this is how i  finalized this dish for the theme. Meanwhile, do check out Kalyani's blog for wide varieties of wonderful recipes from around the globe.
               
                                                
 I read about 6-7 blogs and articles on the Internet about these traditional Moroccan pancakes. All the recipes were with all purpose flour. Some used yeast, some egg and others baking soda. As i have stopped buying Maida ( APF) completely from last 2 years, i decided to experiment with the recipe. Here i have used whole wheat flour instead of APF, fine semolina and salt along with little butter and oil. These pancakes are unique because they are flattened out using fingers on the working platform and no rolling pin is used in the entire recipe. Doesn't it sound interesting? At first, the dough is made with whole wheat flour, semolina, salt, and water. The dough is allowed to rest for 15 minutes after which a little butter is added to the dough and is worked on until it becomes smooth and elastic. The dough balls are brushed with oil and rested again before shaping them. Now each dough ball is flattened out thin on a greased surface with fingers into a round shape. Butter and semolina are applied on it and then it is folded thrice to get a square shape. The semolina, butter layer helps the layers separate on roasting. Lastly, this square-shaped dough is again spread out with fingers on the working platform and then roasted on a skillet with oil, flipped multiple times and cooked until it becomes crisp, fluffy and flaky.

The traditional recipes use a lot of oil while pan frying these pancakes to make them crisp. I have used fat in moderation and still quite happy with the outcome. The recipe is a bit laborious but trust me the end results are worth all the energy and time going in. I can guarantee you one thing for sure that these pancakes are very addictive and once you taste them, you and your family will keep asking for more. You need to try it to out to believe me. These flaky and crispy pancakes are a breakfast staple in Morocco. They are eaten with argan oil or with softened butter and dipped in honey. The pancakes taste best when served hot or warm as on cooling they are no crisper and turn chewy and hard. I would recommend reheating the leftovers if any, from both sides on a heated skillet with little oil until they turn crisp and flaky. So without further ado, let's get started.

Preparation time: 45 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves: 8

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup fine semolina
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar (optional)
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • Oil for roasting the pancakes
Method:
  1. In a mixing bowl, take whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup semolina, salt, and sugar. Mix well and using cold water knead the flour into a semi-soft dough. Keep the dough covered for 10-15 minutes.



2. Next, add 1 tablespoon butter to the dough and work it on a kitchen platform. Knead for about 5 minutes or until the dough becomes elastic and soft.



3. Pinch out equal portions of the dough and shape them into balls. Brush these dough balls with oil and keep covered for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, take a dough ball and place it on a greased work platform. Oil your fingers and flatten the dough ball as a thin sheet of a round shape. Now apply softened butter on the dough circle and spread semolina over it. This butter semolina layer ensures the layers remain distinct on cooking.




4. Now fold one side of the dough towards the center. Fold the opposite side over the first side. Now using tips of your fingers, gently press on this strip to elongate it. Next, fold one side of this strip towards the center. fold the opposite side of the strip as well. Now we have a rectangular strip. Fold it last time to get a perfect square.





5. Now make squares will all dough portions similarly. When ready to cook the Msemen, preheat a greased skillet over low to medium heat. Now take a dough square and using your palm or fingertips flatten the square further until it triples in size. Place it over the heated skillet and let it cook on one side until it turns golden in color.


6. Flip the Msemen and cook on the other side as well. Now apply little oil and press the Msemen using spatula or cotton cloth. Keep flipping and cooking the Msemen multiple times so that it turns crisp and flaky. The Msemen rises and becomes fluffy when cooked in this manner. Make sure the flame is low or else the Msemen will harden from outside and remain raw and uncooked from within.



  7. Cook all the Msemen similarly and serve warm with softened butter and honey.

                        

Recipe Notes:
  • I have adapted the recipe from here. I have replaced the plain flour( APF / Maida) with whole wheat flour and cut down the oil quantity.
  • The pancakes taste best when served hot or warm as on cooling they are no crisper and turn chewy and hard. I would recommend reheating the leftovers if any, from both sides on a heated skillet with little oil until they turn crisp and flaky. 
  • The butter and semolina layer while making the Msemen ensures that the layers remain distinct on cooking. If you do not want to use butter, at least spread semolina between the layers to keep them separated.
  • Keep the dough balls and uncooked Msemen covered with a moist cloth while working to make sure they do not dry out.

If you ever try this recipe, do share your feedback with us in the comment section below.
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Check out the following links for more pancake recipes from this blog.
                              
                              
                              


17 comments :

  1. They look super delicious and soft. I would just love to enjoy them as is for my breakfast along with some black coffee. Good that you have used less fats , makes it so healthier

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    1. Thank you Renu. Less fat means you can indulge into the dish guilt free. I am glad you liked it.

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  2. I can imagine how soft, delicious and soothing these square pancakes would have felt! :) It's great that you have given a healthy twist to the traditional recipe.

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    1. Thank you Priya. I replace all purpose flour with whole wheat flour wherever possible. And these pancakes turn out simply superb.

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  3. Superb flaky nd layered texture, looking very yummy. Yes it's great chance for us explore new recipes because of themes��. Very try it soon, loved that you used wheat flour it make it healthy ��

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    1. Absolutely Aruna ! Food blogging has opened an entirely new world to me. The pancakes really turned out great.

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  4. These look super delicious and flaky..kids are definitely going to love these..you are right it is the best part of blogging to think out of the box and add our own twist to the traditional recipes!!

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    1. Thank you Swati. These flaky pancakes are hit with both kids and adults alike.

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  5. Loved this crispy flaky pancakes Poonam. I can imagine the taste and texture. Semolina and butter in the layer definitely makes it crispy. Perfect for breakfast. Awesome share.

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    1. These Moroccan pancakes are a treat as a breakfast. You are right, the semolina butter layers add to the texture of these pancakes.

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  6. Wow such a delicious feast. These pancakes remind me of rains, coffee n wishing myself sitting and eating these pancakes. Love the pics they are what I followed than reading the post. A must try.

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    1. Thank you so much di for your lovely comment. I am so happy you liked my pics.

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  7. These pancakes look perfect, and you've shaped them to a perfect squares. Msemen is on my 'to do' list. Your recipe is a reminder that I should make them soon.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you di. Shaping these pancakes without a rolling pin is a bit tricky but with practice they turn out good.

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  8. Moroccan Square Pancakes are looking so delicious as well as soft. I would love to make these cute and perfect looking square pancakes sometimes !

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    1. Thank you Sasmita. Do give it a try. I am sure your little one would enjoy it as much as my son did.

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  9. They look so soft and delicious. Your pictorial is making it look so easy as well. Want to try these square moroccon pancakes for breakfast some day.

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